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Dexcom issues, need help

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by shannong, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. shannong

    shannong Approved members

    Sep 15, 2012
    We have only been using the Dexcom for one month and have a couple of questions:

    1) Any tips on getting more than a week out of the sensor? After I re-start the sensor after 7 days, it almost never lasts much longer. I have gotten many of the ??? symbol or I get very inaccurate readings. My son wears it on the arm. I would love to get longer out of the sensors, especially since we do not have insurance coverage. We do tape it down when it starts pulling up. Should I try a different location on his body? I am thinking belly, but we use it a lot for sites.

    2) What do you do when you get very inaccurate readings? Last night the Dexcom kept alarming me that my son was low (like 7 or 8 times). He was never low. I got no sleep at all because of the false alarms. I entered his bg in several times last night to correct the readings and still kept getting wrong readings. Then today, the readings were way off again. The sensor was on it's 8th day, so just ended up pulling the sensor off. I considered just re-starting the sensor to get more life out of it, but thought it probably wouldn't change things.

    Any experience with these issues would be much appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Sarah Maddie's Mom

    Sarah Maddie's Mom Approved members

    Sep 23, 2007
    I'd try another location and tape it right after insertion. I'd also put into a call to dexcom about the accuracy, they may have some tips. And too, take care not to over calibrate. I know it's counter to what one would think, but more isn't better. :cwds:
  3. Thornbird

    Thornbird Approved members

    Jun 15, 2013
    Do you calibrate often? I've found that, in general, the more I calibrate the more accurate it seems to be. Having said that, there are definitely times when it's way off, usually when there's double arrows down or up- it can't seem to keep up.

    If your son doesn't have sensitive skin, you could try Skintac or Mastisol, "painted" onto the adhesive. These have helped prolong our transmitters staying on up to around 15 days in the past. Another option to prolong adhesion without using extra "glue"- 3M Coban wraps.
  4. ecs1516

    ecs1516 Approved members

    Dec 11, 2007
    Also any pressure on the sensor like laying on it at night can get it false lows too.
  5. wearingtaci

    wearingtaci Approved members

    Nov 9, 2012
    we have had really good much cutting an IV3000 patch into 4 strips and using those strips around the adhesive the sensor comes with to keep everything nicely stuck down
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
  6. swellman

    swellman Approved members

    Jul 30, 2008
    We moved from the arms to the abdomen and has much better reaults. However, my personal opinion is take the one week and be happy.

    You were on your 8th day ... change sensors.
  7. mocha

    mocha Approved members

    Feb 27, 2011
    I have found my legs to be very accurate and I get about 10 days out of a sensor, on average. Some lots of sensors are great (almost 4 weeks on one sensor). Other lots are barely making though day 7. It's the luck of the draw.

    As others have mentioned, calibrating is good, but there are times when calibrating throws things way off. If you have up or down arrows (one or two), don't calibrate. I would say don't calibrate even when it's a slant arrow, but I know that's not always going to happen. The reasoning behind this is that the sensor readings really lag actual blood sugars (by 15 minutes, if I remember correctly). If you enter in 150 when there are double up arrows, for example, the sensor isn't actually reading 150, and by the time it is actually reading 150, it should be reading close to 200. But it remembers the calibration, so when you're stable, it will be way off.
  8. DavidN

    DavidN Approved members

    Sep 7, 2012
    We've given up on getting more than 7 days out of the sensor. If we have a great sensor in place and are heading into the nighttime we might restart to get another day or two out of it, but the sensor typically starts acting really wacky after day 7.
  9. hawkeyegirl

    hawkeyegirl Approved members

    Nov 15, 2007
    It's really weird how average sensor life appears to vary so much by user. I bet we've only had 2-3 sensors not go the full 14 days since we started using Dex six months ago.
  10. StacyMM

    StacyMM Approved members

    Oct 22, 2010
    We use Mastisol or SkinTac before applying it, leaving a circle where the wire will go, then tape it immediately after. When the tape (we usually use Hypafix) starts to get gross (it's amazing how much dirt a kid can collect :p ) we peel it up, clean the area again and do the sticky stuff and tape routine again. While we are peeling up the old tape, the kids hold the Dexcom firmly in place until I have the new tape ready - if we don't do this, the sensor seems to slip because readings get a little wonky.

    We haven't noticed issues with sleeping or blankets or a difference between arms and bellies (the sites we use) and we do get multiple restarts out of sensors. My son seems to have less stickiness to his skin and we still average two weeks on a sensor (though it was less during summer when he was swimming a lot) but my daughter seems really sticky. She gets 3-4 weeks, usually, and it takes Uni-Solve to remove the tape and sensor every single time. I really think body chemistry makes a difference - my kids have the same people inserting them, same tapes, same adhesives...but one uses twice as many sensors.

    I am in the 'you can calibrate too often' camp - we calibrate twice a day, usually. Once before breakfast and once before bed. I don't worry about the direction of the arrow when we do calibrate. The kids may do extra fingersticks - for example, confirming a low before treating it at school - but they do not calibrate the Dex when they do it.
  11. Ed2009

    Ed2009 Approved members

    Mar 3, 2009

    1) We stretch the sensor life by re-initiating it after day 7. But if after re-initiating we start getting consistent differences above 70 or 80 mg between sensor and the measured BG, then we change it. Our record was 10 days.

    2) For calibrations, besides what the sensor asks for, more than calibrating often, we calibrate when we are at curve extremes: Say, we have a low at 65 and stable, then we calibrate. We have a stable high a 250, we calibrate again. Looking for far away calibration points seems to help the readings.

    3) To glue the sensor to the skin we use the Skin Tac Pads (MS407W is the product). We wipe the adhesive part of the sensor patch, not touching the center where the hair gos out, apply it to the skin, get the sensor in, and voila, it'll stay there almost forever, even when jumping into the swimming pool.

    4) Every now and then, measured lows are not that low, so when we get the low alarm, unless there are clear symptoms of hypo, we measure BG before correcting. And for very high values, as well.

    With all that said, we're in love with the Dex4, once you get use to "read" the trend, preventive correction keeps values within range.

    Cheers and Happy New Year.

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